Fishing Boats by the Pier
Gunnlaugur Blöndal 1893-1962
Gunnlaugur Blöndal was born on a farm in northern Iceland. At the age of 16 he decided to go to Reykjavík to study woodcarving. After completing his apprenticeship in 1913 he studied drawing at the Technical College in Copenhagen 1915–1916 and then at Statens Kunstakademi in Oslo 1916–1918. After that he travelled in Germany and stayed in Paris 1923–1927, and in Italy 1924–1925. Gunnlaugur Blöndal entered the artistic maelstrom in 1923 and settled in Montparnasse, the home of so many colourful bohemians. Initially he joined André Lhote’s academy which had been founded in 1922. Although certain allusions can be traced through Blöndal’s formal stuctures in the 1920s and into the mid-1930s, there is a clear consistency to be found in the texture and role of colour. Whether using pastel, watercolours or oils, he strives to capture the clarity of the subject. Gunnlaugur Blöndal concentrated on a few pictorial subjects. Besides his portraits and public commissions, he painted landscapes, seascapes and harbour scenes (especially from the northern town of Siglufjörður), workers in the fishing industry, and of course the female nudes which were unquestionably one of the major elements in his creative work. He was the first Icelandic artist to employ this subject in so systematic a fashion, and one reason for his choice may be that during his stay in Paris in the 1920s the female figure and female nude were dominant subjects among a large group of conventional and progressive artists alike. In the 1940s and 50s the artist strove to intensify his colours at the same time as his brushwork and drawing as a whole became much more impulsive.